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It's good to talk as befriending service calls for volunteers

02 October 2018

Councillor Billy Sheerin and Councillor Iftikhar Ahmed along with volunteers.

An innovative befriending service is looking for volunteers to provide help and support in a drive to combat isolation and loneliness across the borough.

Rochdale Befriending is asking people to spare a few hours each week to socialise and support local residents aged 50 and over.

The voluntary role would involve chatting on the phone, a home visit or a trip out to enjoy a shared interest.

Local health and social care charity Making Space has been commissioned to run the service by us and the NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The service will help to reduce social isolation by ensuring people maintain their independence, participate in community life and have access to key services.

A recent report by the Campaign to End Loneliness found that over 9 million people in the UK say they are always or often lonely. This was followed by research by Age UK who suggested that nationally 2 million people will be lonely by 2025, a 49 per cent increase from the 1.36 million people who were lonely in 2015.

This is about reaching out to some of the borough's most vulnerable and isolated people

Honor Simpson, Service Manager for Making Space, said: "Through recruiting befriending buddies' our service aims to reduce loneliness and isolation, particularly amongst adult carers and older people. Becoming a volunteer is a really fulfilling and rewarding role that makes a positive difference to people's lives. This is about reaching out to some of the borough's most vulnerable and isolated people to provide much needed help and support."

Councillor Iftikhar Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: "People are living longer, which is something to be welcomed. However, it's important we don't walk by on the other side and ignore those who are most isolated. Rochdale's brilliant befriending service is running a pioneering campaign to reduce social isolation and I welcome this excellent initiative. I wish the service every success in this vital campaign."

Dr Chris Duffy, Chair of the CCG, said: "This service provides an essential lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. To know there is someone who cares at the end of the phone or making a personal visit can make all the difference for people who are lonely or at risk of declining mental health. These types of schemes are an essential part of our health and social care system in order to help keep people as positive and productive as they can be."

All befriending volunteers will be provided with a full training package and matched with people who have shared interests and hobbies.